Suddenly

photo(89)I woke up this morning, looked out my window and was struck by the blanket of snow covering everything. Pure, milk-colored snow. I was expecting it but when I actually saw it, its beauty captivated my eyes. And it reminded me of God. The way He suddenly changes things in our lives. Suddenly, the waiting is over. Suddenly, the pain is over. Suddenly, hope shoots up like Spring in our hearts. Suddenly, God…

A few days ago a kindred spirit spoke to me of God’s “suddenlies” and to have an expectant heart. I’ve decided to keep my eyes peeled, and I hope you will too. Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t lose hope for that miracle. Keep believing because what He promises He fulfills. Take a moment to read the messages God sends to you through nature; all those subtle reminders of God moving all around you. He’s nearer than you think. Can you feel His breath?

You may be smack dab in the middle of a storm, but a sudden move of God can drastically change the course of your life at just the right time. I know this to be true in mine. Years of waiting suddenly turned on a dime. It was over and orchestrated with so much love that when the fog of pain lifted, I was able to look back and see God’s fingerprints molding it all for my good.

As time goes by, I hope to see more clearly, but not with my eyes.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. You don’t have to see it to believe it. You have to believe it to see it.

Wait for His suddenly. It’s coming!

The Old Paths, The Good Way

Chicago Botanic GardenFinding our way back home isn’t always easy. We’ve wandered rather far. Actually, it’s in our nature to wander. We’ve been sidetracked. Our pride, shame, fear, guilt, anger, unbelief yanked us by the neck and veered us to the right and to the left. We’ve swerved down a lengthy, winding road, took a wild, treacherous one and even crossed some abysmal waters. We’ve even traveled down newfangled paths others have freshly carved, leading us to where we are today.

But where are we exactly? Some of us have been wandering around in circles for years and haven’t moved an inch. We’re clearly not where we’re supposed to be. Drained and dehydrated from the journey, we keep walking or running and not moving forward.

If we replay our thoughts we’d see how they guided every step we’ve taken, every stride made. Many of our decisions felt right, in their season. Some were complete dead ends. The blazing Do Not Enter sign warning us must’ve blinded us. Some were clearly marked Private Property, yet we trespassed anyway.

Whatever the case may be, here we are. But is here where we are to be? And where is here? Are you satisfied with where you are?

Most of us are just plain weary and burdened from trekking through life without some measure of purpose. We hear that promise from long ago, faintly. That there’s a future out there, a plan, a hope. We believe we can do it. We can get there. Wherever there is. Where are we going, anyway?

Are you interested in unearthing those old paths, the good way to get to where you’re supposed to be? If so, you’ll need a light for your path and a lamp for your feet. What path? The one that leads to that garden where you can hear the heartbeat of God. Where you smell His fragrance and breathe in His very love. You know. The one from once upon a time, in the land of Eden. The one where something unforeseen slithered into our lives. The one we left behind.

We may not be able to retrace our steps, but there’s a voice calling out to us that will lead us there, saying, Where are you?

 Thus says the Lord:

“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16

Between Time and Eternity

One day our journey will take us to the brink of everlasting life. One final step and our destiny with or without God will be sealed. Countless souls long for a never-ending communion with God Himself. Yearning to be face to face. Our spirit and soul finally at peace as we bask in the perpetual presence of His love.

Did you know that life and death are what separate time and eternity? This actually happens in the spiritual realm. Spiritual death prevents us from experiencing eternal life, whereas spiritual life opens the door to the eternal.

What if you could experience ‘eternal life’ now? It’s a simple but profound truth found in John 17:6: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Eternal life is not just about living forever and ever. It’s about knowing the Eternal God and knowing His Son. Jesus bridges the gap between temporal and eternal life. Jesus’ divine existence as the Word of God preexisted His incarnation as the Son of man. As fully human and fully divine He transcends the laws of time and space. Knowing Him is life eternal!

Book Review: One in a Million

Has something that you needed but did not ask for drop into your lap unexpectedly? This happened to me with Priscilla Shirer’s new book, One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land. It is without a doubt one of those books that touches your inner fibers so profoundly that you will consider it a landmark in your spiritual journey. The kind that gives you goose bumps when you are reading it because you think it was written especially for you.

Shirer uses the biblical narrative of Exodus 1 to teach us that abundant life can be achieved in our daily living. Experiencing God’s power in our lives every day and not just on Sundays is the crux of this book. The author invites us on a spiritual journey paralleling the Israelites own physical journey out of Egypt, through the wilderness and stationed at the threshold of the Promised Land. That is where the decision is made to become that one-in-a-million who enters the land.

The Promised Land is the place where we experience the fullness of what God has to offer us no matter what the cost to getting there is. It is an invitation to step into our inheritance and live the destiny God has ordained for us. It is also a call that requires courage and patience, as we leave our past behind and wait in the wilderness while trusting in God’s sustenance. It will require determination to enter into a life of power, joy and peace.

Shirer’s writing style is conversational yet clever and full of spiritual gems. The book is a perfect balance of expository teaching and personal anecdotes that bring bible truths to life. It is a must-read if what you truly desire and seek is to be one of the few who will not settle for less than a deeper and more intimate relationship with God.

BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST: If you leave a comment on this post, you will be entered to win a copy of Priscilla Shirer’s new book, One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land. This contest will end on September 10, 2010 at 12:00am.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Word

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.  John 1:1-3

John, the beloved disciple of Christ, knew something so astounding about Jesus’ origins that it would challenge the world’s understanding of who Jesus is.  Because of His intimate knowledge of Him, John dared to reveal that Jesus’ existence before His incarnation reached into eternity past.  Not only did His existence pre-date time as we know it, but He co-existed with God, the Father.  This means that Jesus was a distinct person alongside God.  If this was not enough for mortal minds to grasp, John also blasted any and all pre-conceived notions when he unveiled Jesus’ divinity.  The Word was God!  Although He was distinct in personhood, in essence, He was God.  With this revelation, Jesus’ ceases to be just a teacher, priest, prophet, or king.  He is God Himself! What a grand beginning for the universe, for the gospel John wrote, and for our understanding of who Jesus is.  John introduced Him to us as the Word of God.  God’s voice could be heard in the beginning when He created the heavens and the earth with the Word, when He said “Let there be…”  It was the Word of God that created all things that exist. God’s Word has creative power. In John’s heart and mind, there is no mistaking Jesus’ identity.  Jesus is the beginning of all things.  Embrace this life-transforming Word and bury it in your heart.  After all, it is from the heart that life springs eternal.

Author Interview: Kristine McGuire

Kristine McGuire is the author of Escaping the Cauldron, in which she shares her personal experience as a witch, ghost hunter and medium. She recounts how ghost stories, Ouija boards, séances and other supernatural events had an influence in her childhood — piquing her interest in the occult. As an adult, McGuire slowly wanders from her Christian faith and embraces witchcraft — only to return to Christianity as a result of a paranormal experience she never expected.  Besides being a writer, Kristine is a  Biblical Counselor and training to be a Marriage  Mentor through the American Association of Christian Counselors.  She currently works with her husband Thom McGuire in ministry through Big Fish Ministries and is invited as a Christian speaker at faith-based, church, women’s and youth events.

What led you to write the book Escaping the Cauldron?

God put it on my heart to share my story when I began to notice the unprecedented interest in ghosts, mediums, and ghost hunting we have been experiencing in this country since 2005 and the introduction of “para-reality” television shows such as Ghost Hunters. I began hearing more and more Christians expressing an interest in the topic and curious if it was okay for Christians to participate in it. The more I noticed, the more God put it on my heart to speak the truth.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

I think the most challenging part was knowing how much to share. I didn’t want to inadvertently give people the idea that dabbling in magick or the paranormal is cool and I wanted to be sure God was honored on every page. The point of the book is to draw people to the freedom we enjoy in Christ.

What are the major misconceptions people have concerning the Occult?

I think the biggest misconception is that you can dabble and not experience some kind of effect in your life. There are always consequences when you dabble, even if they are not immediately apparent. The biggest risk is opening yourself to spiritual deception and believing or being drawn to things which God warns us against, such as consulting psychics and mediums. In a country where a horoscope is part of every magazine, it’s very easy to be touched by the occult and not even know it.

For those who are not familiar, what are paranormal events?

Paranormal events are experiences or situations which cannot be explained in the natural and lead the person to believe they are being contacted by a spirit being (usually considered to be a “ghost”). Unexplained noises such as footsteps, knocking, drafts where there shouldn’t be, scents which don’t belong, moving shadows, etc. The first thing should always be to investigate all possible natural explanations but occasionally there are none.

Tell us about your experience as a Medium?

I was what is called a “clairsentient” or “clear sensing” medium which means the majority of what I experienced was through physical sensation or just “knowing.” I sensed the presence of spiritual energy in a location and received information about that spirit. I would also open myself up to communication with the spirit being and receive thoughts, feelings, images, etc. to convey messages to others.

What is a Christian Ghost Hunter in the context of synergism?

A Christian Ghost Hunter is a person who believes that “ghosts” are human souls “haunting” a particular location (in addition to spirit beings such as angels and demons)  and uses the same kinds of methods to track, record data, and attempt to communicate with spirit beings through paranormal investigation using digital cameras, digital recorders, and other various equipment. Many Christian Ghost Hunters see ghost hunting as part of a “deliverance” ministry. So basically, we are talking about Christians who believe in the paranormal and want to take part in investigating it.

Can you explain divination and its relation to horoscopes and tarot cards?

Divination is basically the practice of future telling using some kind of device such as runes (little stones or wood pieces with runic symbols), tarot cards, astrology and horoscopes (using positions of stars and planets for future telling), I-ching, etc. The person uses these devices to make personal decisions based on the “reading” (deciphering the symbols of a divination device) for potential future outcomes. Basically, divination is seeking to know the future outside of seeking God’s will.

Can you speak specifically about the dangers of the Ouija Board?

A Ouija Board is an occult device which is a kind of direct “all access” to the spirit world and is used to directly link spirit beings into communication with you. The specific danger is that most people think of a Ouija Board as a harmless game because that is the way it’s marketed. You can buy them in toy stores. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it is a very powerful and dangerous occult tool which should not be used for any reason because you open yourself up to spiritual deception…even if you use the board and nothing happens.

Why do you think Wicca and its practices lead people further from the truth?

Wicca is a religion and should not be confused with witchcraft. As Christians we understand that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” No one comes to the Father (God) except through Him. Any religion that doesn’t teach Jesus as the incarnate Son of God who died on the cross and was raised from the dead to save humanity from sin leads people from the truth.

What does The Bible have to say concerning witchcraft and the occult?

The “occult” is not specifically addressed in the Bible because it’s a generic term used to encompass a variety of mystical experiences and pursuits. Witchcraft, conjuring of spirits, consulting of spirits, sorcery, divination, mediums and psychics…all of these fall under the term “occult” and it’s all forbidden by God in the Bible.

What are your thoughts on the Harry Potter books and movies in relation to children?

I personally view Harry Potter as a fantasy tale along the lines of C.S.Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  I believe parents can use the stories to engage their children in discussions about the nature of good and evil, do the ends justify the means, what is the difference between fantasy magic and true witchcraft, etc. I have more of an issue with books like “Twilight” which embrace a wrong view of love and glorify obsessive relationships.

What relation does the celebration of Halloween have with witchcraft?

Halloween as practiced by society today has nothing to do with traditional witchcraft (although it is a holy day for most witches or Wiccans).

What advice would you give to someone who is considering leaving witchcraft?

Trust God and be obedient to His word even when it’s uncomfortable.

What would you say to someone who is contemplating witchcraft?

Don’t mess with it.

Why do you think people are led to search outside the church for meaning?

I think it’s because we as the church have not effectively communicated what it means to be in relationship with Jesus Christ and don’t live as if we belong to God. We also tend to deny we have a supernatural God who does empower us with spiritual gifts. They see no power for successful living within the church, so they look elsewhere.

How can the church equip itself to confront these issues?

The first step is acknowledging there is a spiritual world and recognizing that as Christians we have spiritual authority in Jesus’ name. We trust in God by faith that He will direct and move us according to His will and that He will empower us to stand against the enemy (Ephesians 6) in all circumstances.

What other topics will you cover in future collections in this book series?

I’m actually planning to re-organize the book series into one book called “Escaping the Cauldron” which will cover the topics of Christian witchcraft (yes, there is such a thing), the paranormal (ghosts, mediums), divination, psychics, etc. Each chapter will include a short Bible study at the end. There will also be helpful things like a glossary of occult terms, etc. The hope is to release the book in September.

Tell us about Big Fish Ministries and what you do.

Big Fish Ministries is the dream God put on my husband’s heart to reach out to people who are on the margins of the traditional church. We are passionate for the ways of Jesus and want to be faithful to His teaching to love God and people. We are passionate about prayer, worship, and finding ways to express devotion to God through art and music. We want to inform people about important topics such as homelessness, marriage and relationships, the dangers of the occult, etc. Both my husband and I speak at church and ministry events (individually and as a couple).

How can people follow your work and ministry?

We have a website: bigfishministries.com. Currently we are trying to raise money so we can obtain our 501C3 and become an official non-profit organization. I also have a blog called Kristine ReMixed: kristinemcguire.com. I write daily about a variety of topics dealing with marriage, life as a Christian, etc. I have a newsletter which people can sign up for on my website and we will be starting one for Big Fish Ministries.

Additional Thoughts:

Thank you for asking such interesting and thought-provoking questions and for helping me raise awareness in the church about the dangers of the occult. Many people think because they are Christians they are “safe” from spiritual deception. However, we must always be on our guard and keep grounded in the word of God so we can recognize the subtle lies of the enemy within our culture.

KRISTINE MCGUIRE’S VIDEO TESTIMONY

Hearing Voices

I was watching a TV drama years ago about the murder of an up-and-coming young writer. The person who killed her wanted to steal her writing and make it his own. The murderer thought that the young writer had two things he did not have — a voice and a future. What the misguided murderer did not know was that everyone has a voice and the voice of another coming out of yours will sound out of tune and will ring inauthentic.

Our voice is our inimitable personal language — how we express ourselves, be it through the arts or other countless ways of sharing our life experiences. Each voice tells a unique story. By giving voice to our experiences we invite others to catch a glimpse of our struggles, our dreams, our faith — our story.

Faith is what makes the difference in a Christian’s story and in the way the voice is expressed. Each story involves God as the protagonist, who oftentimes is foreshadowed throughout our lives until He is revealed to us as the director and producer of our life story. His presence and creativity brings the turning point that gives meaning to our storyline. It is that pivotal encounter that is expressed through our voices in varied forms and makes the stories worth telling and those precious sounds worth hearing — leaving lingering echoes in our souls.